Deputy Broughan has recently asked the Minister for Health for his response to a recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carried out for the HSE which highlights the relationship between poor air quality and breathing conditions such as asthma and hospital admissions. On the 20th of November 2019, Deputy Broughan was informed via PQ reply that “the report is currently being finalised for publication.” Deputy Broughan’s question followed media reports that some of the findings were discussed at an EPA conference earlier in the autumn.
The reply to the Parliamentary Question stated: “Air quality is an important environmental determinant of health and in this regard the HSE has a priority to identify and advise the general public on strategies to reduce their risk of adverse effects during episodes of poor air quality. To this end, the HSE and the EPA established a collaboration to look at the relationship between short-term changes in ambient air quality and hospital admissions due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in Dublin city and county between 2014 and 2018. The Air Quality Index for Health (AQIH) was the measure used for ambient air quality (Available URL: http://www.epa.ie/air/quality/index/).
The preliminary findings from this work have highlighted that the ambient air quality in Dublin is predominantly good (i.e. Good: 96% ; Fair: 3% ; Poor: 1% ; and Very poor: < 1%). Other findings are comparable to reports within the literature, but uniquely show the Irish experience.”
Deputy Broughan says “While it is welcome to see that the preliminary findings are good there were worrying reports in the media about asthma and other illnesses being exacerbated by the poor air quality in Dublin. The report apparently shows that there has been a very large (70%) increase in asthma-related sicknesses causing admission to hospital but we are waiting publication of the report to see the results for ourselves. The congestion in the cities around Ireland needs to be addressed for many reasons (including climate change) and one of the key reasons is the air quality affecting our citizens’ health.”